Repent or Perish

Opening Prayer Thoughts. 
Praise God
Praise God that he does not deal with us as we justly deserve. Praise God that he sent his only begotten into the world to be the Saviour of His people. Praise God that Jesus fulfilled all obedience, even onto death on the Cross, so that his people would not perish.
Acknowledge Sin
Confess the sin of not repenting daily of sin and living by faith as you should.

Please read Luke 13:1-9 – Repent or Perish.

Please ask God the Holy Spirit's help as you come to his Word.

V1. Murder in Jerusalem – was it because of their sin?

Luke doesn't tell us why some people came specifically to Jesus to tell him about the killing of a number of men from Galilee on the orders of Pontius Pilate. This is the only record of this incident, so we have to piece together what must have happened from what Luke tells us. We can tell that it took place in Jerusalem because the Galileans were in the process of offering sacrifices at the temple when, for whatever reason, they were killed. This had caused a stir among the Jews. Not only was the murder a horrific act, but the fact that it took place in the temple where the sacrifices were offered, merely added to its odiousness. Gentiles were forbidden to enter these priests’ courts, on pain of death, something that was clearly stated on notices on the walls.  

But why the rush to tell Jesus? Did they think that this might ignite such a sense of indignation within him that he would rise up in a fit of rage, storm off to Jerusalem and incite a rebellion? Jesus' response doesn't address that impression, so that can't be what the news carriers were thinking. What we get from Jesus' response is that this news comes to him because people think these men must have committed some heinous secret sin and that God had used Pilate to destroy them. 

V2. Everyone is a sinner who will die.

Jesus responds with a rhetorical question. He asks those bringing the news if they think that the men who died were any worse sinners than anyone else who lived in Galilee. As far as Jesus is concerned, in terms of their sin, they are no different from anyone else in Galilee. So, the idea that this happened because of some specific sin in their lives is wrong.

As we know, God can and does, on occasions, deal immediately with specific sin. God addressed Cain's sin directly in Genesis 4. The sin of Achan brought immediate judgement from God upon him and his family, Genesis 7:10-26, as did that of Ananias and Sapphira, Acts 5:1-11 and Herod, Acts 12:20-23. However, it is inadvisable to connect major events in people's lives with the possibility that they have committed some specific sin. A point Jesus makes more than once in various circumstances, e.g., John 9:2,3.

Having responded by way of his question, Jesus states it emphatically. “No, I tell you”. There is no room for misunderstanding here. And it leads to an equally clear statement about life and death. Obviously, Jesus is not saying that everyone in Galilee is going to be murdered by the Romans at the instigation of Pilate. The point is simple – these men perished, but so will everyone who does not repent.

V4. Let me give you another example.

Jesus now cites a case of violent death to reiterate his point. It, too, had happened recently and would, therefore, have been in people's minds. It had also happened in Jerusalem near the pool of Siloam. A tower that seems to have been connected to the city wall, near the pool, had collapsed and killed eighteen people. A 'freak' catastrophic accident. Something no one could have foreseen that had eternal consequences for eighteen souls. Jesus' point again is simple – 'do you think those people died because of some particular sin?' Again, the unstated but clear implication is, 'No'. And as with the previous question, Jesus immediately follows this one with the same statement, "No, I tell you…." His reiteration leaves absolutely no room for confusion or error. 

These people died, but so does everyone, and they all do so for the same reason, because of sin. God told Adam that if he ate of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil that he would surely die, Genesis 2:17, and as He always does, God kept His word and Adam died, Genesis 5:5. But not just Adam, all of his descendants died, Genesis 5, and the descendants of Adam have been dying every day since, at an estimated number of 156,400 per day. 

Death is the inevitable consequence of being born. Paul tells us the reason why in Romans 5:12, "therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned." But the issue that Jesus raises, and addresses, is not why people die, because death comes to all, but what happens after death. As the writer to the Hebrews says, "And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment," Hebrews 9:27. The critical point about the judgement is that it is not a 'trial' to ascertain the facts of the case so that a verdict of innocence or guilt can be determined. That is a common, but seriously mistakenly held view. It is not a 'trial' because the verdict has already been declared. Paul, again speaking of Adam's sin, "for the judgement following one trespass brought condemnation," and that "condemnation for all men," Romans 5:16,18. So, every human being stands condemned before God, they are by nature objects of God's wrath, Ephesians 2:2, and if a person dies without repenting of their sin, they will, in the words of Jesus, “perish”. And by “perish”, Jesus means they will experience the appalling prospect of eternal separation from the goodness of God. But that does not mean they will live eternally in a godless existence. No, they will experience and endure, for every second, of every moment, of every millennium, the angry presence of God, resulting in the most unbelievable agonizing pain of body, mind, and soul. It is a thought that has me seriously trembling as I punch these words into the keyboard. 

How unspeakably thankful those in Christ should be for the grace we have received to repent of our sin. For this repentance is first and foremost a work of God's grace, and then our human response. As we saw in the Shorter Catechism the other day – Answer 87, "Repentance leading to life is a saving grace, by which a sinner having truly realised his sin and grasped the mercy of God in Christ, turns from his sin with grief and hatred and turns to God with full resolve and effort after new obedience." A doctrinal statement grounded upon what Luke writes in Acts 11:18, "When they heard these things they fell silent. And they glorified God, saying, "Then to the Gentiles also God has granted repentance that leads to life."” (See also 2 Timothy 2:25). 

The truth is clear – it is solely by God's grace that we, in Christ, have come to a true understanding of our sin and grasped the mercy of God, and then turned from our sin, and resolved to obey God. It is that and that alone which has saved us from perishing.

A Psalm to Sing.

Psalm 62A - Link to the words. Link to it being sung. Sing with joy in your heart to God.

Memory Verse.

It is a privilege to lay into our hearts and minds the light and truth of God's Word. 

Romans 1:16a – "For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God"

Truth for the Mind and Heart.

Westminster Shorter Catechism, Question 93 - Which are the sacraments of the New Testament?

Answer - The sacraments of the New Testament are, two only, Baptism, and the Lord's Supper, and these take the place of Circumcision and the Passover in the Old Testament.

This is taken from where you will find proof texts.

Thank God.

Thank God for the grace of repentance and the hope of eternal life in heaven. 

Take care in Christ,


Rev. Dr. Andrew Quigley

Minister, Ottawa RPC